Going back over the design, rehashing all of the thermal and audio results, we do have to say that we are satisfied with what we have seen. Head to head; the Big Shuriken 3 competes with the NH-L12S, both are equally priced at a sub $50 price point, the Noctua is one millimeter taller, and were very close in the majority of testing. That says a lot on its own.
The build quality of the Big Shuriken 3 is quite good, everything works as intended, and even with the minor issues we ran into with a specific set of components, it is unlikely that many will run into what we did in the first place. However, it did have us feeling the pain of any LGA2011.2066 users, where quad-channel memory will need to be standard height.
The assembly process went off without a hitch once we sorted the orientation, and from CPU installed in the socket to having the cooler installed and ready for action, it took us all of about three minutes to make it happen. For those of you with confined space requirements, the Big Shuriken 3 is the shortest option we have seen with a 120mm fan on top, and at the same time, delivers top-tier cooler performance for its category.
There are a couple of things that are still sticking in our minds though and are things beyond our choices of components to test CPU coolers with. We do feel that the fan is either inefficient or is in some way less than compatible with the motherboard PWM circuit powering the RPM signal. We say this for two reasons.
One, if the fan is supposed to be 1800 RPM and it only turns at 1600 RPM, there is a prominent issue glaring at us there. Two, we feel that the curve did not react as well as it could have with the overclocked setting applied, where the fan leftover 500 RPM in reserve, and a bit more than six degrees on the table, available, but not used.
As strange as all of that is, we can understand the desire to stay at 30 dB to appeal to the masses, and usually, this goes in an HTPC where silence is vital, but we feel the cooler could do more, but for some odd reason, it isn't. Still, though, in the end, the performance and audio are right there where it should be for this class of CPU air coolers. When it comes to the cost, we may have misspoken earlier saying that the near $50 MSRP was a bit high, as it is a direct competitor to the NH-L12S, which we were happy with when we reviewed it. And it still requires $50 to obtain now.
With the fact that the Big Shuriken 3 can be had for just $40.99 right now, that one-degree difference we saw in the overclocked thermal chart is a nine dollar advantage to Scythe. Even at max, with a fan on top of this cooler, also if it is a 25mm thick replacement fan, the Big Shuriken 3 will only stand 77mm tall, and the Noctua is 70mm to start, with the fan under the fins.
So when it comes to having the best performance, and the ability to suit many more environments, we have to give the edge to Scythe and show them the love this cooler deserves. While the masses may not find the need for a cooler like this, for those with the right conditions in place, Scythe has the smallest, most affordable option with a 120mm fan that can also deliver the goods in all areas.
The Bottom Line
The Scythe Big Shuriken 3 delivers class leading performance for such a compact design, yet is still able to fit without all the hassles of many other SFF intended coolers. If you have a lack of room and need clearance as a priority, look no further!